It's a modern day version of Noah and the Ark, of sorts. Kingston took its first step Thursday afternoon in preparing for coastal flooding with part one in a series of public forums to discuss the historic Rondout waterfront.
The task force is a group comprised of government, nonprofit and business community volunteers. They plan to deliver a formal approach to address long-term climate change, with respect to rising storm surges, later this spring.
“The idea for this task force is to develop recommendations by looking at data, doing some analysis and joint thinking, that can feed into the various things that are already happening,” said Ona Ferguson, senior associate at the Consensus Building Institute.
Thursday's meeting was a collaboration between the City of Kingston, CBI, New York Department of State, Scenic Hudson, state Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
“The problem we're here to talk about is an evolving one, and the solutions are going to be evolving as well,” said Scenic Hudson Senior Vice President Steven Rosenberg. “So that the community can get economic gains and social and recreational and environmental gains, and won’t have to every couple of years, take all of those gains and reinvestment in fixing all the failures from floods and storms and seeing it all for naught.”
Kingston's waterfront along the Rondout and Hudson River is one of the community's greatest opportunities for economic development and revitalization, Rosenberg said. “As we collectively make investments in that, we want to make them as smartly as we can.”
“The only way we're going to continue expanding the waterfront, and making it that jewel of an asset that it has been historically, is by having this kind of forum,” agreed Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo. “To exchange this information, we can develop programs and projects to insure the vitality of the waterfront – plus the safety of its residents and businesses.”
Team members listened to presentations by local officials, while referencing large maps of the Kingston waterfront, cross-referencing new information with the city's comprehensive plan, Conservation Advisory Council decisions, and other ongoing initiatives.